This document is used to initiate court proceedings for an eviction. The process for a Forcible Entry and Detainer “shall be commenced and service made in the same manner as other civil actions”. In other words, through a court of law. If you (the landlord) live out of state and a recognizance is required, any person can stand in on your behalf (with personal liability).
Who: This notice is not given to the tenant. You (the landlord) must complete it and file it with the court. You’ll also be responsible for paying the filing fees. Understand that this must be filed in the county court where the property is located. It cannot be filed in your area unless they are the same (this applies to both out of state landlords, and those who live in a different county in Maine from the rental property).
What: This document is the official start to the legal eviction process (after you have served your tenant with the appropriate notice – a 7-day demand for payment, for instance). You cannot evict a tenant if you have not filed this complaint with the court. There are quite a few important elements that must be included with your complaint, as well:
- Your name (plaintiff)
- The address of the property
- The name of the tenant (defendant)
- The reason for the eviction:
- Rent behind
- Served with 30-day notice to quit
- That lease violations occurred
- The location of the property again
- The date
- Your name or that of your attorney
When: This complaint cannot be filed until the duration of the notice served to your tenant expires. For instance, if you served them with a 30-day notice to quit, you cannot file this until that has expired (also note that the “days” are only business days – weekends and holidays don’t count).
Tips and Tricks for Landlords:
Make sure you create copies of the complaint for your files. You should also ensure that you have fully allowed the notice to run its course (the time to expire). If you were not able to serve the tenant in person, you must have made three “good will” attempts before mailing it and posting it.
If you are an out of state landlord, make sure you either attend in person, or have another person stand in on your behalf (they will be personally liable).